The West Side Story remake is officially happening and Steven Spielberg is directing. Spielberg considers this remake of the classical musical to be a "dream project", and wants to make it one of his next movies. While it hasn't been officially confirmed what his next directorial effort is going to be, this remake is officially moving forward as Spielberg has put out a casting call.
Not much has been revealed about the project so far, but the West Side Story casting call reveals that Steven Spielberg is looking for three Latino performers for the roles of Maria, Anita, and Bernardo. The casting call also reveals that the director is looking for a Caucasian actor for the role of Tony. It also states that the actors must be able to sing and that dance experience "is a plus." Given that this is a musical, that doesn't come as a big surprise.
This casting call also confirms that frequent Steven Spielberg collaborator Tony Kushner, who wrote the scripts for Lincoln and Munich, is penning the remake of the 1961 classic. West Side Story started life as a hit play in 1957 and was brought to the big screen by directors Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. The movie went on to become the second-highest-grossing movie of that year and garnered 12 Academy Award nominations, ultimately winning 10, including Best Picture.
West Side Story is, or at least was at the time, a modern-day retelling of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The movie and musical revolve around New York street gangs who operate on the harsh streets of the upper west side. The two gangs battle for control of the turf, but the situation becomes complicated when a gang member falls in love with a rival's sister. Quite similar, structurally speaking, to Romeo and Juliet, but this story has a lot more singing and dancing in it.
In most cases, anyone tackling a remake of West Side Story would raise a lot of eyebrows and be subject to a lot of skepticism. However, Steven Spielberg doing it is another story entirely. He's just coming off of The Post, which garnered some love from the Oscars this week, and he's also got the upcoming adaptation of Ready Player One coming out this March. Even though he's decades into his prolific career, he hasn't lost a step and, if this really is a passion project for him, one has to imagine he's not just doing it to cash in somehow.
Steven Spielberg is also directing Indiana Jones 5, which is set for release in July 2020 and is said to likely be his next movie. However, it looks like he's eager to get moving on this West Side Story remake, so it's hard to say for sure at this point what he's going to direct next. The news of the West Side Story casting call, which you can check out for yourself below via a tweet from Vulture's Mark Harris, was first reported by Broadway World.